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January 22, 2010

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Questioning attitudes

The Health and Safety Laboratory has developed a new tool in the battle to reduce workplace injuries.

Built on a 40-question survey, the HSL Safety Climate Tool (SCT) includes a series of questions that challenge both employers and employees to consider their attitude towards health and safety, allowing particular areas of concern to be identified. The software package also features data analysis to evaluate the responses given.

The precursor to the HSL SCT was adopted by hundreds of companies following its launch by the HSE in 1997. One of those firms, United Biscuits, has already ordered the new version, and its health, safety and environment manager, Chris Shepherdson, credits the SCT for a fall in major incidents and a reduction in lost hours.

Said Shepherdson: “Since we’ve started using the tool we’ve had a 36-per-cent drop in RIDDOR and lost-time accidents, a 50-per-cent drop in minor accidents, lost hours are down by 75 per cent, and near-miss reporting is up by 75 per cent.

“The results of the survey are very interesting, offering a useful insight into the safety culture of employees, and demonstrating how a person’s perception is, in fact, their own reality. One of the key findings was that 80 per cent of staff said they worked safely most of the time, but 80 per cent also believed that other people worked unsafely. That’s like the ‘everyone else is a bad driver but me’ syndrome!”

The Olympic Delivery Authority uses a bespoke version of the new software package, which is compulsory for all sub-contractors. Car manufacturer Ford has also tested the latest version to evaluate the safety culture among workers at its Southampton plant.

HSL director Peter Davies said the SCT has proved particularly useful in increasing reporting of accidents and ‘near misses’. “The updated SCT is a fantastic mechanism for enabling organisations to raise the profile of health and safety in the workplace and develop a strategy to tackle any areas of concern,” explained Davies.

“Feedback from users of the original version is that it has helped improve employee reporting of risk and incidents. I expect the new SCT we have developed will become a vital component in the toolkit for health and safety and human-resources managers, now and in the future.”

The SCT is available on CD ROM from this month, while customised versions can also be developed. For further information, or to purchase the SCT, go to

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